The VideoKid's reliance on a now tired 80s aesthetic is likely to repel as many as it attracts. It's a game that wears its creators' affection for the era's pop-culture on its sleeve while serving up a slightly altered take on the NES classic Paperboy.
At times the cumulative effect of its garish colours, constant visual gags, and appearances from Big Bird can lend VideoKid an atmosphere of overpowering weirdness – feeling very off, like an acid flashback recently suffered and described by your 60-year-old dad. It's pandering of the highest order, but its unrelenting nature nevertheless casts a strange shadow.
A stranger take on PaperboySo it's a shame that it plays like a fairly standard version of Paperboy, switching out a bike for a skateboard and papers for VHS tapes. You'll accumulate cash and points by making deliveries, interacting with the 80s characters (also by lobbing tapes at them), and making gradual progress through the randomly-generated streets and sewers.
Obstacles in your path are plentiful and often tricky to dodge, whether they be Inspector Gadget or a parked vehicle. And while The VideoKid's difficulty never becomes its focus – that's always placed squarely on the retro aesthetic – it's certainly more unforgiving than most games of its type. One slight mistake can spell the end of a run, and failure almost always arrives suddenly and ferociously, often from a bungled lane switch.
This alone wouldn't be an issue if the lanes themselves were clearer. The sewer sections in particular are poorly laid out and hard to predict, feeling more like a failure of design than an intentional ramping of difficulty. You'll adapt to work around the dodgy lanes after a few runs, but it doesn't all of a sudden stop being a problem just because the player grows accustomed to it.
These frustrations are exacerbated by the time to wait between the end of a run and the start of the next. It's a pace-killing process that's prolonged by reward/score screens and ad prompts. Though to give credit where it's due, its mostly ad-based monetisation model is otherwise handled fairly.
New costumes can be bought with in-game cash that is best earned through watching ads. But again, it's never too much of a hassle to instead make that money through play.
And you probably won't be averse to repeat runs, as there's a definite sense of progression that comes from sharpening your reaction times, playing around with the limited unlockable skills, and mastering once-challenging layouts.
Falling flat?It's ultimately a fairly safe game that goes the route of adding a few bells and whistles to a classic whose simplicity was always part of its appeal. Whether you find those bells and whistles to be worthwhile additions will depend wholly on your enjoyment of that era and tolerance for deliberately excessive references.
Nothing here elevates the Paperboy framework to new heights, which is ultimately what holds it back, but as far as retro reshuffles of this type go – think Horizon Chase, Crossy Road, Tetris Effect, etc – it's diverting and often strange.Click here to check out all of our other mobile and Switch reviews